Struggling with Death of Son-in-Law

Dear Dr. Gloria,

I was wondering if you could help me to understand or help my daughter (Jacquie). My son-in-law Clinton passed away from melanoma cancer in June of 2006. They together had three children and were very much in love with each other. Clinton was 36 years old and a very wonderful husband, father and son-in-law.

The concern that I am having is that my daughter is not going through the grieving process. When Clinton was diagnosed with the cancer metastisizing to the brain, Jacquie fell apart for a little bit.  Then she just seemed to run, such as just not being at home by going to the store.  When Clinton passed about 6 months later Jacquie just seemed to take it in stride.  She cried some but all in all she seemed to be dealing with it very well.

I figured that she was dealing with it in her own way because she has been through an extreme amount of difficult things in her life and has learned how to cope, but I think that her coping is just to go into denial. Clinton’s best friend and cousin’s name was Alton whom he was very close to also. When Clinton passed Jacquie and Alton seemed to cling to each other immediately and started “seeing” each other within two months time and are now engaged to be married in Aug. 2008. I am not saying that it is a bad thing, he is also a very good person whom the children also know and love but I am afraid that my daughter just transferred her emotions and needs to Alton. I know that they were good friends before this happened and they did not have any romantic feelings for eacy other at that time. If any one understands this or maybe has gone through it themselves maybe they can help me with this because I am just afraid that one of these days it will all catch up to her.
thank you,
Debi

Drs. Gloria and Heidi Respond

Dear Debi,

We are so very sorry for your loss of your son in law and for your concern about your daughter, Jacquie. Because each person grieves in his or her own way and own time it is difficult to assess whether they are  finished with the grieving process. Some of us question whether it is ever really “finished.”  The grieving process doesn’t go smoothly from one clearly defined step to another so that when we’ve completed the “last step” we’re finished with it once and for all.  Many are ready to get back into the mainstream quicker  than others and find that it helps them with the healing process.

It has been two years. As a parent it is sometimes necessary to step aside and trust our adult children to make good decision for themselves and, yes, allow them to make mistakes as well.

Let yourself be drawn into their happiness and plans for the future. She has, as you say, been through a lot of “extreme difficulties” and now has found a path that leads her to hope for happiness in the future.

It is also best to keep a good relationship with your future son-in-law.  Your daughter and her new future husband are the gatekeepers to your relationship with your grandchildren.  Remember all unsolicited advice is always taken as criticism even with the excuse of “I was just trying to help”.  You might want to purchase a copy of my book, “The Inlaw Survival Guide”.

We will post your letter on the blog so others may also respond to your questions
Sincerely,

Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley

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